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One year ago, den 22. juli 2011, Norwegian extremist Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in cold blood, in Oslo and on the island of Utøya, both in Norway. News of the tragic event spread like wildfire here in Denmark. Previous atrocities of a comparable scale — the Oklahoma bombing in USA [oo-ehs-AH], mass killings of civilians in Mellemøsten (the Middle East) — had all seemed so far away, like a bad movie or something. Now the grim face of terrorisme had shown itself just across the strait of Skagerrak. Pure evil had manifested itself among the Norwegians — the one people that is most closely related to the Danes in terms of language, history and culture. This is real, people shuddered. This could’ve happened in Denmark too. (One of the ofre, victims, on Utøya, was a Danish mother who had used her own body to shield a child from døden, death.)
Denmark and Norge [NAW-weh] share a common history. During the Viking ages the language was basically identical, and for 4 centuries, until 1814, the two countries were both ruled from Copenhagen. The dominant written language in Norway, Norwegian bokmål (“book language”) was based on norwegianized Danish, so most Danes and Norwegians understand each other’s newspapers (although the spoken language can be harder, as the two languages are pronounced very differently!) The two countries still share are a lot of cultural traits that set them apart from Sweden (which is also Scandinavian), for example the letters Æ and Ø, and the red and white colours of the flags.
So, the shock was almost as great in Denmark as it was in Norway. For weeks the aviser [aVEEsor] (newspapers) hardly wrote about other things. The then-PM Lars Løkke participated in a special memorial service in Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady’s Church) in Copenhagen, and Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg quickly became a kendis [KENdis] (famous person) in Danish television.
The day after the nyhed [NEEheth] (piece of nyheder, news), the area in front of the Norwegian consulate in Århus had been overstrewn with blomst/er (flower/s). A white sheet of paper declared:
I dag er vi alle nordmænd. Today we’re all Norwegians.